Genesis 1: Yahweh Creates the World in Six Days

Hebrew-English Text


Yahweh (called ‘elohim, “God”) creates light and darkness on the first day, the sky on the second, the land, sea, and vegetation on the third, the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth, the sea creatures and birds on the fifth, and the land animals and people on the sixth. Yahweh grants people dominion over the plant and animal world.


1-5. The 1st day: God separates light and day from darkness and night

6-8. The 2nd day: God creates the sky

9-13. The 3rd day: God separates land from the sea and brings forth vegetation

14-19. The 4th day: God creates the sun, moon, and stars to separate day from night and to keep track of time

20-23. The 5th day: God creates and blesses the sea monsters, the crawly sea creatures, and the birds of the sky

24-31. The 6th day

    24-25. God creates land animals and crawly land creatures

    26-27. God creates men and women in his/their image

    28-30. God  blesses the people and grants them dominion over and the right to eat animals and fruits/vegetables, while the animals are to eat leaves and grass

    31. Conclusion


This chapter begins the first of two creation accounts, the second starting in chapter 2 verse 4. When reading these two accounts, it is important to notice the following about chapter 1:

  • In the first account Yahweh is called “God” (אלהים), but beginning in 2:4 he is called “God Yahweh” (יהוה אלהים).
  • In chapter 1 God is more a distant, mystic creator who creates with his word; in chapters 2-3 he is a divine humanoid of sorts who walks and builds man out of clay and breathes life into his nostrils.
  • Eden is not mentioned in the first account, whereas it is central to the second account.
  • Adam is created with a female partner in 1:27, whereas in 2:7, 21-22 Adam is created alone, then he waits for a female partner, and she is then created from him.
  • In chapter 1, vegetation is made on the third day but man on the sixth; according to 2:4-7, there was explicitly no vegetation when man was made.
  • In chapter 1, animals are created before man on day 6 but in 2:19 the animals are created after.

Note that each day is separated from the other by the phrase “it was night, it was day, day X” (…ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום). According to Jewish tradition, this is proof that a “day” begins with the night preceding it. So, the Sabbath begins on Friday night, and all Jewish holidays begin at nightfall. Conversely, the Sabbath and holidays end with the setting of the son. Yet, one medieval rabbi, Rabbi Samuel ben Meir of Troyes (acronym Rashbam) , argued that this is not the meaning of the verse. Rather, “it was night” marks the end of the day, while “it was day” marks the next day. According to this explanation, which in my opinion is to be preferred, the Sabbath would theoretically begin on Saturday mornings and end with the coming of the Sunday sunrise.

Select Verses

1-3: When God began to create heaven and earth — the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water — God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

14-16:  God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times — the days and the years; and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.

26-30: And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.”  And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”

God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.  And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants for food.” And it was so.